President Donald Trump said on June 24 that foreign countries should protect their own oil tankers in the Middle East, suggesting that other countries have been relying too heavily on the United States to ensure the safe passage of their oil around the world without giving back.
In a series of posts on Twitter, Trump brought up China and Japan—two countries that obtain the majority of their oil from the Strait of Hormuz. Trump made the comments as he was preparing to impose additional sanctions on Iran, after he stopped a retaliatory missile strike from going forward on June 21.
“China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight, Japan 62%, & many other countries likewise,” he wrote. “So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation. All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been a dangerous journey.
“We don’t even need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy anywhere in the world!” he added.
The president concluded his comments with a request to Iran: “No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!” he added.
….a dangerous journey. We don’t even need to be there in that the U.S. has just become (by far) the largest producer of Energy anywhere in the world! The U.S. request for Iran is very simple – No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2019
The United States said Iran was responsible for the June 13 attacks against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, near the Strait of Hormuz. At a department briefing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the evaluation was based on a number of factors including intelligence, the weapons used, and the level of expertise needed to conduct such an operation.
Iran has repeatedly threatened that it will block the Strait of Hormuz if it can’t sell its oil because of U.S. sanctions.
The president’s comments on the oil tankers are similar to criticisms he made of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He has previously lamented about the United States spending far more on NATO than any other country, and has called for members of the alliance to increase their contributions.
Meanwhile, Pompeo said on June 24 he had meetings with Saudi Arabia’s leaders to discuss tensions in the area, specifically the safety in the strait.
“Productive meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud today to discuss heightened tensions in the region and the need to promote maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz,” he wrote. “Freedom of navigation is paramount.”
Tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, have increased since Washington pulled out of a deal in 2018 between Iran and global powers that aimed to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
On June 20, an Iranian missile destroyed a U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone in international airspace, according to the Pentagon. Trump later said he had called off a retaliatory military strike at the last minute after being told it would kill 150 people, saying on Twitter that it “was not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”
Trump has also given the Islamic regime some diplomatic wiggle room. Vice President Mike Pence told CNN on June 23 that the administration remains doubtful that the drone attack was authorized “at the highest levels,” of Iran’s leadership.